When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified Jesus there with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, while the sun’s light failed; and the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” Having said this, he breathed his last. (Luke 23:33-34, 44-46)
You are indeed my rock and my fortress;
for your name’s sake lead me and guide me,
take me out of the net that is hidden for me,
for you are my refuge.
Into your hand I commit my spirit;
you have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God.
“A new sort of power will be let loose upon the world, and it will be the power of self-giving love. This is the heart of the revolution that was launched on Good Friday. You cannot defeat the usual sort of power by the usual sort of means. If one force overcomes another, it is still ‘force’ that wins. Rather, at the heart of the victory of God over all the powers of the world there lies self-giving love, which, in obedience to the ancient prophetic vocation, will give its life ‘as a ransom for many.’” (N.T. Wright, The Day the Revolution Began: Reconsidering the Meaning of Jesus’s Crucifixion)
When the hour came, [Jesus] took his place at the table, and the apostles with him. He said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer….” Then he took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And he did the same with the cup after supper, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.” (Luke 22:14-15, 19-20)
And during supper Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him.
“You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.”
After saying this Jesus was troubled in spirit, and declared, “Very truly, I tell you, one of you will betray me.” (John 13:2-5, 13-17, 31)
Almighty Father, whose dear Son, on the night before he suffered, instituted the Sacrament of his Body and Blood: Mercifully grant that we may receive it thankfully in remembrance of Jesus Christ our Lord, who in these holy mysteries gives us a pledge of eternal life; and who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (Book of Common Prayer)
Today’s Thought: The greatest commandments.
Then they sent to him some Pharisees and some Herodians to trap him in what he said. (Mark 12:13)
Jesus is accumulating followers, making the Romans and church leaders nervous. He’s been attracting large crowds when teaching at the temple, so Pharisees, Sadducees, and Herodians begin gathering there as well. They inundate Jesus with questions in an effort to catch him in a lie or blasphemy.
They ask who gave him authority to teach in the temple; whether or not the religious should pay taxes to Caesar; and quiz him on hypothetical situations dealing with the resurrection. (Those last questions were from the Sadducees who didn’t even believe in resurrection.) And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that [Jesus] answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” (v28)
Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength’ [Deuteronomy 6:4-5]. The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’ [Leviticus 19:18]. There is no other commandment greater than these.” And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher….” And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.”
And after that no one dared to ask him any more questions (v29-34).
O God, by the passion of your blessed Son you turned an instrument of shameful death into a means of life: Grant us so to glory in the cross of Christ, that we may gladly suffer shame and loss for the sake of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (Book of Common Prayer)
Today’s Thought: Are we good caretakers?
Then he entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling things there; and he said, “It is written, ‘My house shall be a house of prayer’; but you have made it a den of robbers.” Every day he was teaching in the temple. The chief priests, the scribes, and the leaders of the people kept looking for a way to kill him. (Luke 19:45-47)
I can tell you several bits of information about this scripture. I can tell you it was the day after Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a colt. That this particular scene took place during Passover, so there were thousands of pilgrims descending on the temple plaza. (Which, by the way, was the size of 29 football fields.) I can tell you how Jesus quoted from the prophecies of Isaiah and Jeremiah, and how that challenged the powerful.
But the most important thing I can tell you about these words from Luke is how they were merely a precursor to the profound change Jesus would usher in as the Messiah. In Paul’s first letter to the church at Corinth he, like Jesus that day, reminds them to take good care of the holy temple of God. But now, because of the sacrifice Jesus would make within a week of his arrival, the temple is no longer standing in Jerusalem. Now, it’s within each of us.
Paul writes, Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple. (3:16-17).
So… What’s going on in the Temple, that holy place of God where the Spirit dwells? Do thoughts about money take up 29 football fields? Does hatred, or bitterness, or self-destruction? Is there space for Jesus to teach or will he be forced to flip a few tables first? Is there room for you to learn? You are God’s holy temple. Are you caring for it?
Monday’s Meditation: Those in whom the Spirit comes to live are God’s new Temple. They are, individually and corporately, places where heaven and earth meet. ― N.T. Wright
Today’s Thought: It sure is windy out there…
The 40 days of lent are coming to an end, as Holy Week begins tomorrow. This morning I’m forced to turn my attention elsewhere as the deadlines of my seminary work loom large… books to read, research to explore, papers to write. The demands of the day have begun. I know you’re facing your own set of deadlines.
“It comes the very moment you wake up each morning. All your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists simply in shoving them all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in. And so on, all day. Standing back from all your natural fussings and frettings; coming in out of the wind.” — C.S. Lewis
Try to come out of the wind sometimes today, and I’ll promise to do the same.
Draw near to God and he will draw near to you. (James 4:8)
Today’s Thought: Who do you think Jesus is?
“Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
“But what about you?” [Jesus] asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:13-16)
In John 6, Jesus has gone up the mountain with his disciples as a large crowd of about five thousand (!!!) gathers because they saw the signs that he was doing for the sick. Jesus looks out over the crowd and then he turns to Philip. The gospel writer tells us that what happens next is a ‘test.’
Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?” Philip answered him, “Six months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.” One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?” (v5-9)
Jesus takes the five loaves and the two fish from the young boy, divides it among the five thousand—giving them as much as they wanted—and they were satisfied!
This is an example of the test Jesus administers over and over throughout the gospels. It only has one question: Who do you believe I am? When Jesus asks Philip where they can buy bread for all those people, Philip doesn’t say anything to indicate his belief that nothing is beyond the power of Jesus. He doesn’t reveal any faith in Jesus’ ability to solve this problem. Instead of answering Jesus’s question about “where” bread might come from, all Philip can think about is “how.” And he limits his possible answers to the “how” of this world—a world absent the living power of God incarnate though Jesus. (Likewise, Andrew focuses only on what he can envision through earthly power.)
Just a few short chapters back, Philip was the one proclaiming, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote” (John 1:45). Yet, when his faith is tested, he forgets that the one of whom Moses spoke has promised to always take care of his people. Even when more than you were expecting show up for dinner.
Friday’s Faithful: To know the Cross is to know that we are saved by the sufferings of Christ; more, it is to know the love of Christ Who underwent suffering and death in order to save us. It is, then, to know Christ. ― Thomas Merton